The moment I see a sexy Street Sharks burlesque act my childhood will be officially ruined.

Atomic Lollipop day 2. It’s the big one. Stretching from 11am to 2am, it’s like a full time job if you’re a qualified nerdy nerdowell. A whole day of the eccentricities that make A-Pop more than just a geek con. It’s enthusiasm and insanity distilled into a celebration of the things that make pop-cultural fringe (and basement) dwellers delighted. Given that we’d clung on till the last moments of day 1, we skipped out the morning to catch up on sleep. I sneakily repurposed a Captain Mal Reynolds (Firefly) costume from a prior theme party to put on my best second rate Nathan Fillion. I’m not gonna begin to compare myself to that level of handsome. Still got a few requests to pose for photos.

Voice acting mock auditions. An assortment of talent and egos assembled in a small lecture theatre. In under 2 hours we went through scripts and got feedback. There was a who’s on first style piece, another involving the mind of Satan possessing a small child and a quick commercial. In the relatively small group, you really felt the reads. It became painfully obvious when someone had missed the mark, but hugely rewarding when a pair could harness their chemistry and bring the most out of a script. A choice way to start the day.

Leaving the theatre, we came upon a bunch of our friends who’d orchestrated a group Mad Max theme. Doing our best to hang out amidst the unending photo requests, we waited while they organised the large scale Nerf blaster battle. We waited some more, then killed time by continuing to wait. For all my endless love of Atomic Lollipop, the grassroots organisation sometimes shits itself and you’re left with sticky mess. Filling a clutch spot within my schedule, I found that by the time anything got sorted I had to bow out to my greater FOMO. So many things on and I wasn’t gonna miss out on Competitive Erotic Fanfiction: Hello Kitty vs Samurai Pizza Cats.

Until I did. 5 minutes in I realised I wanted to try out the blaster battle. I drew my 3rd party (read: dollarama) dart gun (that happened to fit the smaller Nerf darts) and ran downstairs. Bullets were flying thick and fast. Held in the fully functional interactive science exhibit, there were copious hiding spots. In other words, attacks came from all sides. A few of my rolls and slides left me bumped and bruised, but that’s what you get when you’re fully active on a hard stone floor. With a gun that could only hold one bullet at a time, most of my activity was taking evasive measures. Running, I slid under a low sign. I pulled off a few commando rolls, jumped up and ran across some stone benches, then hid behind the curtain of a photo booth. In under 10 minutes I was exhausted and went back upstairs.

I got there just as Nerd Circus was firing up. A hoola hooper dressed as Tank Girl changed the way I thought about hoola hoops. Balancing one on her head as she took off her shirt, weaving in and out of a hoop as she danced, spinning 10+ hoops simultaneously. Unreal. A juggler dressed as the joker was top notch. After tiring of balls, he brought knives into his act. Balancing one on his tongue, he juggled a few. Crazy talented. There was a Harley Quinn aerial silk act, an absurdly sensual contortionist dressed as Faye Valentine and the rest of the acts I’d seen one night previous. Watching the show made me recall just how much enthusiasm I have for the circus arts, but how my low level coulrophobia has kept me away. Can’t sleep, clown’ll eat me.

Next up was PeepshowTO’s 90s cartoon burlesque. Watching a mix of gals and guys roleplaying explicitly realised characters turned on a red light next to my childhood. A Sailor Moon performance opened things up, involving on onstage costume change. It was strange to be at a burlesque gig with people cheering for the performer putting on more clothes, but who better to respect a transformation sequence than anime nerds? The newly established outfit was discarded soon enough anyway. An Inspector Gadget routine married stripping and slapstick, with an extendable arm over the guy’s “Johnson” for a bit of the old slaps-dick. Daria nailed it, stripping with in-character indifference, while Mrs Frizzle sizzled and led the class on a trip right to the centre of her.. A-hem.

Seeking to avoid the Prozzak reunion gig, I found myself in a hallway chatting with the circus crew from earlier. Discovering that the Faye Valentine contortionist had coulrophobia herself was interesting, given that her boyfriend (Joker) regularly clowned up for his routine. Con-friends I’d made came over and we shot the shit for a bit. Having nowhere to go, I had time to kill. I noticed a thump coming from behind me and saw a dude freaking out with his girlfriend on the floor. He grabbed her and pulled her up as she lumbered about. There was nothing going on in her eyes and he streamed out a litany of curses. I offered to help, but he waved me off. A few metres in front of us she fell to the ground again. I ran up to them and helped her up. I figured she’d taken something and the guy wasn’t really helping manners. Calming them down a little, my friends helped out and we got her outside to the grass. She wasn’t present and it was really alarming. She was moving, sure, but mentally she was checked out. They got her into the recovery position while I ran to the street to hail a cab. Her boyfriend was smoking, freaking out about the cops finding out. We told him he needed to get to the hospital, but he wasn’t in a place to hear it. He tried to pull her into the cab by her arms while the driver looked on in horror. We stopped him and helped her in, taking care to keep her neck supported. The driver got it, saying they needed to get to a hospital. We left her lying on the back seat, head in the boyfriend’s lap in case she needed to turn her head to vomit. The cab sped off and we were left on the grass, hearts racing. I just hope she didn’t die. My friends stayed outside for a smoke while I wandered back into the venue, dazed. I needed some water.

Before long I ran into a friend who’d had an adventure of his own. Finding the re-entry line to be too long (I’d waited until the security guard was distracted and walked straight past) he circumnavigated the building and walked through a staff entrance. After downing a hip flask of bourbon of course. They’d closed off any admittance to downstairs as Prozzak had filled it to capacity. A DJ was spinning in the great hall, so my friend and I begun dancing. Ironically at first, but soon enough we just got into the flow of things. Continually switching intermittently between putting effort in and fucking around, I was having a tremendous and sweaty time. For a lark I started doing the macarena. My friend followed suit and soon enough, others picked up the shapes we were throwing. A few minutes later we had a block of 20-30 people all macarena-ing in unison. This is how cults work, kids.

Dripping with sweat, shirt unbuttoned almost to my waist, I searched out something a little less intense. One theatre was doing 90s cartoon theme song sing-a-longs while Fan Fiction The Show had one more gig, Harry Potter vs Twilight. I started on the former before arriving at the latter in time for some classically spoofed Edward/Jacob slash fiction. These folks put on an excellently entertaining gig, they’re worth catching if you’re around Toronto. By this point I’d shaken off my freaky experience from earlier and the girlfriend and I went downstairs to shake it off a bit more. Going nuts on the dance floor again, we met up with our couple friends and peeled off to crash at their place, getting to bed just before 4am. If you’re gonna do something, do it right. Right?

Yeesh, that was a day. Who needs a kip?

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